I’ve always been fascinated by tales of strangeness, especially folktales, superstitions and ancient wisdom from past generations. So I was super excited when I came across #FolkloreThursday on Twitter, a new hashtag for all things folkloric. Now it’s become my weekly dose of weird and wonderful wisdom.
Today, I’m talking with the founders of #FolkloreThursday, Dee Dee Chainey and Willow Winsham to learn more.
What is Folklore Thursday? How did it get started?
#FolkloreThursday is a Twitter hashtag day that takes place every Thursday, where people can share their own folklore quotes, images and blogposts using the hashtag. We also now have a website with new folklore articles appearing every week.
Dee Dee & Willow: It was funny actually, we both already took part in a few hashtag days to share our own blog posts. We started chatting one day about how there should be a hashtag day just for folklore, as we thought it would be great to be able to go to one place online and find all the strange and random snippets that people know but are hard to find out about. It all snowballed from there.
We planned how we would go about it for a few months, and told some of the folklore-lovers on Twitter about it to get the ball rolling. At first we thought there would just be a few of us taking part each week, but after a while the hashtag started attracting a lot of new people – it was very unexpected!
Now we have so many people taking part that the hashtag ‘trends’ most weeks. It’s become so popular that just last month The Independent and the BBC took notice and asked if they could feature us – very exciting stuff!
Let’s get personal. How did you get interested in folklore? What is your favourite type of folklore?
Dee Dee: I think, really, the interest must have started way back when I was small and has lasted ever since. One of my most vivid memories is being thoroughly entranced by ‘The Bunyip Song’ from the cartoon Dot and the Kangaroo and I think the magic of that has always stayed with me.
(Madeleine: Ooh, I’m writing about Bunyips at the moment in my next episode of The Antics of Evangeline! )
Dee Dee: From then on I devoured all folklore, mythology and fairy tales I could get my hands on. I studied Latin, and Greek myths, at school, then went on to study religion and the myths of creation at university, and later, prehistoric archaeology as a way to really get to the roots of what drives mankind and the beliefs we hold about the world.
I’d say mythology is one of my favourite types of folklore, but I also love life-cycle rituals from around the world – there’s something vital and primal about them, something that really draws me back into the past while still linking with the dreams we have for the future I suppose I see them as living folklore that show us that no matter how technological we become, stories, magic and links to nature are still alive in the world.
Willow: Visiting our local library as a young child and discovering the folklore and related books there was what started it all for me; they had a wonderful mix of everything from folk tales to monsters and myths, and I have such great memories of reading my way through it all. I think when an interest starts at that age it never really leaves you, and it’s been something that has come back through the years, both as a hobby and now in a work capacity!
Legends and regional folklore are top of my favourites list, but anything with a witch-element will usually catch my interest! Coming from a history background, I love researching the background to a tale and verifying or debunking “facts; I’m also something of a compulsive genealogist so if I can have an excuse to dig out the parish registers, all the better. I must also admit to having a soft spot for Black Dog-related lore….
Random other question – what are you currently reading?
Dee Dee: I’m reading Jackie Morris’ book East of the Sun and West of the Moon, a lovely retelling of the classic Scandinavian tale, collected by Asbjørnsen and Moe, and also Andrew Lang, and once illustrated by Kay Nielsen. Jackie’s work is really magical, with really beautiful illustrations.
Willow: I’ve got a couple of things on the go at the moment. The Lancashire Witches: Histories and Stories edited by Robert Poole is a collection of essays on the Lancashire Witch Trials, and although it’s work-related research, it really doesn’t feel like it and is utterly fascinating. I’ve also just started Lancashire Folk by the wonderful Melanie Warren; it’s a real gem of a book, beautifully presented and meticulously researched, I’d heartily recommend it!
Thank you, Dee Dee and Willow! Where can people find you?
People can follow #FolkloreThursday at
You can find Dee Dee Chainey at
Willow Winsham can be found on
- Her new book, Accused: British Witches throughout History, can be pre-ordered on Amazon